It is indeed a victory for our democracy that this constitutional requirement has been put in place to affirm once more the principle of government’s accountability to the public as embedded in our blueprints. The democratic process is only authenticated when it’s done by the people and for the people.
To a remarkable degree, the government of the Gambia, under President Yahya Jammeh, has always been at the forefront in executing this provision. The government of the day, the president in particular needs to be commended in this regard.
For, it’s through the annual tour that the people get to voice out their triumphs and trials and tribulations directly to the president. The people are supposed to tell the president and his entourage how the government should help them consolidate their gains and overcome their challenges.
The timing of the tour – ahead of the rains – is strategic. In fact, the original idea was for the president to meet with the farmers. That’s why it was called meet the farmers tour. This was not an accident given that The Gambia is an agrarian society. Doing the tour before the rainy season allows farmers to spell out their constraints and needs. Already, there are concerns that as the rainy season approaches fast, there’s scarcity of fertilizer in the country. Hopefully, the president’s tour would, as the cliché goes, hear it from the horse’s mouth. Farming remains the most important economic activity in Gambia. The government therefore, should do everything within its capabilities to ensure the farmers concerns are taken into consideration during the tour. Besides, this is an opportunity for a much needed assessment of the policies and programmes meant for the people. So the necessity of the tour cannot and should not be underestimated.
It’s impossible to efficiently govern a country when the link between the masses of the people and the leadership is weak or severed. One of the cords that link the citizenry with the process of governance is nothing less than dialogues in open forums and gatherings.
Moreover, at a time when most of the National Assembly members are clearly alienated from their constituencies, wherein those from the hinterlands hardly go up to their people frequently to know their concerns, this tour is very much welcomed and will be of immense benefit to not only the people but also the country’s leadership.
However, as far as previous tours were concern, much remains to be desired. No need to belabour on them but it’s quite worthy to be noted that this exercise is often turned into a full-blown political campaign. It is therefore, important that we are reminded that this is no time for party politics. We are to dialogue regardless of our political differences. The institutionalisation of democracy within the citizenry owes itself first to the masses taking the responsibility upon themselves to make the governance process responsive. It’s the voice of the masses that will speed up the national development process.]]>